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F. Lee Bailey should be disbarred, Florida Bar argues

Naples, Fla. — F. Lee Bailey, the veteran defense attorney whose clients have included Patty Hearst and O.J. Simpson, has been called into court for a trial that could end his long career.Florida bar attorney Terry Schmidt opened Bailey’s disciplinary trial Tuesday by telling state circuit Judge Cynthia Ellis that Bailey should lose his law license for helping himself to millions of dollars in stock intended for the government and lying about it under oath.The chief charge against Bailey is that in 1995 and 1996, he paid himself $3.5 million from the sale of stock owned by international drug trafficker Claude DuBoc, a client of Bailey’s. That, the bar charges, violated an oral agreement with DuBoc’s prosecutors and went against a court order freezing DuBoc’s assets.Bailey then lied under oath when he testified that he was unaware of that judge’s order, Schmidt said. If Ellis agrees with the bar at the end of the weeklong trial, she can recommend the state Supreme Court disbar Bailey.Don Beverly, Bailey’s attorney, said he would delay his opening statement until later this week.Bailey has denied any wrongdoing. He says the federal government agreed he could keep the stock for his help in locating and selling DuBoc’s assets.Bailey spent 43 days in jail in 1996 for contempt of court until he surrendered the $3.5 million and is now trying to get it back.David McGee, a former federal prosecutor who handled DuBoc’s case, testified Tuesday that Bailey was given $6 million worth of stock in a Canadian biotech company so he could pay for the maintenance of two French estates owned by DuBoc that hadn’t yet been forfeited to the government. Monthly expenses for the estates approached $20,000 each.But, he said, it had been made clear to Bailey that he was holding the stock in trust and that the government intended to take it.McGee said Bailey approached him sometime after he was hired by DuBoc in 1994 about whether he could be paid out of DuBoc’s seized assets. He said that would be up to U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul, who was handling DuBoc’s case.

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